New Scholarship Honors PR Professional’s Legacy

Daniel McConnell was never afraid of taking risks. “He’s one of those who knew that life is just a leap of faith,” remembers close friend, Doug Bamford. “He’d tell you to ‘spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape’.”

In recognition of McConnell’s outstanding public relations career and service to the University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education (UWPCE) program, the Communication Department is proud to announce the creation of the J. Daniel McConnell fund. This scholarship will support deserving students in the Department who hope to follow McConnell’s lifelong dedication to communication, public relations, and community service.

McConnell passed away May 8, 2017 in Seattle at the age of 72. He attended Indiana University, was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism and English and Master’s in Business Education.

He started his own company, The McConnell Company, when he moved to Seattle, and then merged with Elgin/Syferd, which was later acquired by global agency, DDB Public Relations. Later, when DDB moved out of Seattle, he started McConnell Communications.

During his career, he worked with large companies such as McDonald’s and Microsoft, Seattle institutions like the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, and other influential clients including the White House and Olympics organizing committees.

In 2006, he received the Jay Rockey Lifetime Achievement Award from the Puget Sound chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

In the early 1990s, McConnell was instrumental in developing the UWPCE public relations certificate program, now known as the Certificate in Strategic Communications & Public Relations. He taught a number of courses and helped evolved the program as a key member of the advisory board. Among his innovations was the creation of a unique, all-day crisis communications simulation for the media relations course, which is a central element of the program today, according to UWPCE.

McConnell also drew upon his professional network to provide courses with instructors, guest speakers and mentors. UWPCE recognized his many achievements with a Teaching Excellence Award in 2013.

“Dan was an outstanding instructor and a very giving person,” said Malia Morrison, program management director at UWPCE and manager of the communications and PR certificate program. “He had a big influence on the lives and careers of hundreds of students over the years.”

McConnell also served on the Board of Directors for Pacific Science Center, Fifth Avenue Theater, the Seattle Library Foundation, Seattle Community College and Western Washington University Foundation.

A celebration of Dan’s life will take place 6:30 PM, June 29, 2017 at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Those interested in contributing to the J. Daniel McConnell fund can make an online donation here.